Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."





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Monday, April 27, 2020

YOUTHFUL MEMORIES


In the summer of 1953, after graduating from college, I worked as a counselor at Camp Winamac in New Hampshire [I think].The oddest camper was a boy from New York who was a pathological liar.  He told huge, absurd, self-aggrandizing obviously false lies about himself and his family, a practice that made him a constant butt of ridicule from the other campers.  I had never encountered anyone like him, and his behavior puzzled me.  He clearly had nothing to gain from the lies; quite the contrary.  I could not tell whether he believed them, in any usable sense of the word “believed.”  There was no point to them, no consistency in them.  If we were going swimming, he would claim he had once swum the English Channel.  If parents’ weekend was approaching, he would say his father was the richest man in America.  If we arranged for some campers to go horseback riding at a nearby stable, he would say his parents had twenty horses on their estate, one of which had won the Kentucky Derby.

That was sixty-seven years ago, and I have never encountered another compulsive liar of that sort, at least not until now.  I wondered then, and I wonder now, what twisted, abortive, punitive, crippled childhood produces them.  At least that little boy did not grow up to be President of the United States.

4 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

I had a friend who was a pathological liar. I believe it was part ego inflation and part playing with people.

For example, I was going to a doctor and he told that the doctor was a good friend of his girl friend and asked me to say hello to her from his girl friend. I did and the doctor said she didn't even know my friend's girl friend. That was just mischievous playing with others on his part.

He would claim to have had a much bigger role in the resistance to the Pinochet dictatorship than he actually had or to have won street fights that he probably never participated in or to have run marathons much faster than is probable. That was ego inflation.

I gave up socializing with him after both of my sons, on separate occasions, called him a liar.

The last time I looked, he was a tenured professor at a fairly prestigious university.

Chris said...

I have a very hard time feeling compassion for the president, but I also wonder what kind of childhood interacted with biology to form him. I imagine it involved a lot of pain.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere inside that hardened, defensive shell is a very insecure and scared little boy who never really felt love or approval from his parents.

David Zimmerman said...

Perhaps now is the time to re-watch the English film from the sixties, "Billy Liar," featuring a stunning performance by Tom Courteney as the eponymous serial liar.